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The 21st century will be spiritual,
or it will not be.
We are in the 21st century.
Thus we are really in a spiritual century!
Basic definition: Spirituality is the understanding of the human mind, and all the means to transform this human mind in a way to be able to experience a true happiness.
Spirituality is the major skate of the 21st century. As a matter of facts, the main lesson of the 20th century was the failure of the great social or political utopias (communism, hippies... without speaking of the relative failure of the democracy utopia). This failure regularly had for cause our unability to actually behave in harmony with an ideal of peace and solidarity. Only some small strongly spiritualized groups suceeded. The evident conclusion is that a social or political approach is not efficient enough to better ou rminds: only spiritual methods (or, in a lesser extend, psychological) showed really able to allow us to master our own minds, and eliminate out of it all those conditionnings and limitations which make us do evil to others and to ourselves. Only these spiritual methods can allow us to really build this serene life we all hope. It is really what Malraux understood, after years of deceiptive activist fight, and that he expressed in this shock formula. In fact spiritual methods even offer us much more than what matter alone will ever promise us: to get access, beyond death, to a paradise life, forever out of reach of any suffering, and outmatching our wildest dreams.
But this path is not easy, and numerous traps and obstacles await us.
In practice: Introduction to Buddhism
There is a saying of the atheists, to which I completelly agree: If spirituality was only about to «believe» while doing nothing concrete to help others, so it would be completelly and definitelly useless, only a sweet illusion to guard us against the fear of death. And if it was leading only to conflicts and fanaticism, it would be to forbid completelly.
In reality, the scope of spirituality is infinitely wider, and thus it has many uses:
- While giving a meaning and a purpose to our life, it eliminates despair and egotism. Our human spirit is necessarily the basis of all projects of society, of every life project.
- Is is the very basis of any morals, even among materialists.
- While giving us the means to eliminate all our psychological conditionnings, it opens the door to happiness and harmony, whatever at a personnal level, family level, social level, worldwide level.
- But the main is that spirituality had always promised us a paradise life after death. For a long time such a claim looked completelly irrealistic to atheists and materialists. But the inception of phenomenon like the NDE and the recent scientific checking of the parapsychological phenomenon comply us to very seriously envision the possibility of a survival of consciousness after the body death. So our happiness after death becomes the highest stake in our lives, with priority over all the temporary concerns. It could even become interesting to sacrifice all what makes the ordinary life, as always did ascetes and ermits. But this must not go so far as to refuse to behave in a correct manner with others, as preciselly our success after death straight forwardly depends of the love and hapiness we were able to offer to others.
Still many peoples confuse the spirituality with the religions, likely because of the monopoly they long enjoyed in this domain.
At the origin, all the religions were founded by spiritual persons who received some inspiration for a wisier life, more happy and more compassionnate. But they were always more advanced than average, so that their messages were misunderstood, when not purposely distorted. So the morals rules designed as guidelines for respecting others became arbitrarian codes, sources of suffering and frustration (especially this curious phobia of sex, so commonly spread among the various religions). The wise explanations became arbitrarian dogmas, and the idea of spreading the happy new produced the very classical social control systems and colonialism. So often the religions were degenerated into simple social conformism without real spirituality, when they not plunged into fanaticism, cults, inquisition, etc.
Abridged galery of deviations and alterations of religion:
- Fanaticism: to make of the religious commitment a business of conflict, segregation, etc.
- Moralism, pharisaism, salafism, dogmatism, etc. The spiritual truth cannot be put into simplistic concepts, and especially not into shaky logical scaffolding or arbitrarian doctrines. All these intellectual buildings can only bring us farther from the basic intuition. Thus this intuition must be recovered at every moment, with the help of meditation, which is the appropriate way of knowing in the spiritual domain.
These mistakes concretelly appear as a conformism to quantities of hair splitting rules, without even remembering their justification. In reality only our sensitivity and compassion allow us to really feel what is good or not to do.
- The reverse of the previous faults is appearing in some streams of the New Age: to reject every concept, every intellectual building, every morals. Especially when ones mistakes one's desire or imagination with intuition, or when one claims to have «one's truth». Deceiption warranted.
- prudishness, confusing a mastered sexual behavior with a disgust of sex (nearby always associated with hatred of women). The least to be said is that both extremes, prudishness and laxness, are as much miserable the one than the other.
- Social conformism. Some countries or religions exclude or martyrise the ones who don't follow our faith. This is a serious mistake, as nobody can pretent to detain the absolute truth in a subtle domain where intellectual faults are numerous, with unexpected consequences. A martyrised can become a saint, a martyriser never.
For this reason I prefer the word spirituality in place of religion. Spirituality is more general, it is a study of the human mind, an attitude toward life, a practice of bettering our mind and emotions. This has not necessarily to be made into the classical religions. Neither necessarily out of these religions.
The above problems led more and more people to reject any form of religion, whatever it was the libertines, the French Revolution, the positivists, the Marxists, the materialists, the scientists, the groty-punk movements.
As a matter of fact, the desire not to «believe» without evidences led certain persons, toward an understandable Cartesian doubt (note 1). But we have to admit that for others, to reject religions or spirituality, is to reject kindness and compassion far before to reject the illegitimate power of the degenerated religions.
But really, the same causes producing the same effects, the mind defilements which led to the degenerescence of religions lead today to exactly similar troubles in an atheist context: dogmatism, social control, persecutions, etc. So the atheiscism of many people, far from being a legitimate doubt, is only a raw refusal of the Good and of the human mind: «Libertarian» refusal to do an effort for others in accepting moral rules, scientistist (note 2) refusal of the human consciousness in order to legitimate criminal activities (vivisection, abortion for personal convenience, fiddling of reproduction, denegation of pollution, etc.) This could have led so far as true atheist inquisitions, as much frightening and unhealthy and the Middle Age inquisition.
Secularity (Laïcité in French) is a nice ideal of people who are different but who live and work together in respect and harmony. Alas in reality, secularity is much too often confused with atheism. The danger of religious fanaticism is a very convenient pretext to harass people who did nothing wrong, and this just leads to atheist fanaticism. If we do not take care, the repression which today in France falls on young muslim women, could soon fall also on vegan people, non-violents, ecologists, alternative groups, scientists, in clear on everybody. Those who remember the 1930' know just too much what is the mandatory outcome of such «social experiments» if we allow them without reacting. Anyway, it is quite clear that a society which requires from all its members to behave at the exact opposite of all the spiritual teachings (self-centered life, economy based on egocentricity, materialist scientistism denegator of consciousness) this society was never secular, it is an openly anti-life society, a «liberal» dictatorship like the «Brave New World» of Huxley. And, in this spiritual 21th century, in more it is a reactionary society, retrograde, niny.
This question is very relevant, as nearby all the religions pretended to justify their value with miracles or with demonstrations of spiritual powers. But I think that to justify oneself with spiritual powers is not the best method. As a matter of facts, the right question is to know if a religion or practice can really lead to more happiness and more understanding, with proposing social conducts, or transformations of our minds. But there is no need of miracles for this, and even atheist psychological practices can pass this test.
However we would like to know if the promise of a paradise after death is for real, or if it is just a bait for priests. If it is legitimate do do sacrifices in this life in order to obtain a paradise, or if it is better to enjoy this material life at best while we can. But to assess the matter of the survival of the consciousness after death forcibly requires metaphysics or parapsychology. And now, in this 21st century, the appearance of phenomenon such as the NDE, or the recent confirmation of the parapsychological phenomenon by standard science methods, allow at last to engage the debate and to pose rationally (note 3) the hypothesis of a form of survival beyond death (or of reincarnation). And if our eternal happiness could depend of our attitude during this life, so this legitimates a great number of strong spiritual practices which go far beyond a simple search for psychological balance and social harmony. Practices that society must encourage, or at least allow.
Some say that miracles do no more take place today. What a silly joke!! It is definitivelly possible to observe stealth miracles in the presence of some very great buddhist or hinduist masters. For instance meals with just the required quantity of food, despite the arrival of much more guests than expected. I was myself the witness of this phenomenon, and I had once my life protected by a premonition of an invisible danger. Simply, modern masters do not try to convert peoples with this argument, for many very good reasons. Such as respecting our free will. Sees who really wants to see. Or to avoid the appearance of some new fanaticism. The story of the Guy who multiplicated breads, they read it too, and they know all the horrors which were made in His name.
The correct attitude about the relationship between society and spirituality is in fact a non-duality between: 1) the need to respect the freedom of people, and 2) the need for all to have an efficient spiritual practice, if we want a more happy society. (For a correct understanding of non-duality, see your favorite yoga lesson, or the first part of my book «General Epistemology»). Not to understand this gives two possible way to fail: the classical religious fanaticism, or the today atheist inquisition. To understand it gives 1) a compromize zone (The true secular society, which respects the freedom of practice, without any need to hide the spiritual fact) or still better: 2) a middle way, to protect and encourage spirituality, but without enforcing it.
There is no simple answer to this question, except to avoid sects, bigots, and fanatics.
My personnal choice was that of tibetan Buddhism, for its scientific approach which make it fit very well to the modern world, or for the availability of many high level masters. But Christ's gentleness, Allah's requirement for integrity, the energy of the Tao, the numerous hinduist Yogas, and even all the variety of shamanic transes, each have its own appeal. It is a domain where even suggestion is too much. That everyone follows his heart, but without forgetting to study the basis of spirituality where they are available. Nothing forbids, for instance, to study in a buddhist center, to practice Chi-Gong or Yoga, while keeping a great monotheist religion in our heart. There are no real contradictions between the various true spiritual paths. The differences that we think to see arise only from our inperfect understanding.
A comparizon I like much is to say that each spiritual path climbs up the same mountain, each on its side. Each starts from where it is, and progresses as it likes, with the tools he has. But all will have to tackle the same difficulties: the mountain has the same height for everybody. And especially it has only one summit, where everybody will necessarily meet. Transcendance, whatever it is, is unique, it is the human conceptions which varie from a religion to the other.
If you are atheist from Cartesian doubt (simply from lack of evidence, not from angry refusal of the spirit, note 1) do not make a problem of this. I was too, in my time. My advice in this case, is that you stay in a positive motivation, toward happiness and beauty, or to better your mind. If there is really a God or something, He will recognize His servants, and at that time, no doubt, even Cartesian, will no longer be possible.
If you became a member of a traditionnal religion only from simple social conformism (You «believe» because your parents told you, or because «the society» told you) I would give you the same advice as to the atheists, except that you have an advantage on them: it is better to be naively true rather than scientifically false. Study the wisdom of your religion, since keeping in mind than to believe without understanding exposes you to bigotry, or worse. Study also the wisdom of other religions, even if you do not commit in them. One day, you too will feel the appeal in your heart. I guarantee you that it will no longer be social conformism.
You live in a country which is a religious dictature, and you wish for more freedom. Right, but don't reject your religion just for this reason, it is really not worth doing this. And also, do not confuse freedom with liberalism (alcool, competition, pornography, business...) the coming down to earth would be hard!
The people in your spiritual group make you afraid, they make you thousand reproaches, have requirements impossible to fullfill, you get in a low mood, nothing seems to have a meaning: you must seriously consider that you are in a sect. Get out as fast as possible and, in case of threats or harassment, immediatelly ask for the help of anti-sect associations. The problem here is that many anti-sect groups are in fact atheist sects, or sometimes just other hidden religious sects! You can easily test them by saying that you want to remain into spirituality, but not into Christanism, and not into scientology. A true association will help you even in these cases, but «some» will reject you or make you feel culprit. Flee, it is even more dangerous than the worse sect!.
Next turn, you just got out of a sect, but the grey and purposeless life of the «normal» society is now unbearable for you, to the point of bringing you to depression. This problem is serious, and, even if you join a valuable spiritual group, you have little chances of finding again the (fake) human warmth of the sect. You can try a psychiatrist specialized in traumatism healing, but even this cannot completelly alleviate this suffering: once we have seen the light, the desire for it will never disappear.
The only solution now is that you reinvest your energy, not in the frantical search of an immediate fake paradise, but in a more long run endeavor toward the elimination or all your mind defilements which block your way toward a stable happiness, in this world of beyond. This attitude is known in Buddhism (The lamrim) and in Christianism (to bear our cross) and I shall call it the spiritual judo. Attention, this is not about mortification, but to think that the fastest ans safest mean to end suffering is to seriously commit in the practice of the positive transformation of our mind. To use suffering as a usefull consciousness recall, in place of letting it destroy us. Sometimes it will be good to take some «holidays» without intensive spiritual practice, to cope with some down to earth requirements (to have a job, to raise our children). But we must never completely stop any practice. In the minimum we must have some informal meditation every day, and consider our down to earth activity as a need to build more solid basis to our spirituality. If we pass this exam, we shall automatically be called to the next level. I experienced myself this situation, and repetitives dreams indicated me which path to go.
Or, from anger toward the spiritual swindlers of the sect, you reject all their (fake) teachings, see you take the opposite course of them, for instance you drink again alcohol, eat again meat, etc... Danger!!! The theories of the sects are nearby always a plagiarism of genuine spiritual teachings, or gathering of true methods for transforming the mind, modified to make them ineffective. Do not threw the good with the bad, it is much more skilful to restart from your very own intuition which led you to the sect, and go toward the true teachings this intuition pointed at. Generally, you will just have to correct some mistakes. A sincere and regular practitioner always goes forward, even in a sect, while, if we do not practice, even with a very good teaching we cannot advance.
If you are atheist because you reject light, you do not want to make efforts for others, you want to do what you want, even if this disturbs others. This rejection is a very serious problem. In this case, try to find why you hate life, why you are angry with the happiness of others. At need, do not be afraid of asking the help of a specialist physician. You are not «mad», but a specialist may be of help for you.
At last our spiritual evolution is not something linear. Many peoples abandon their traditionnal religion, try different paths, or suddenly reject powerfull commitments they had however taken heartedly. Other concerns interfere, children, work, turmoils. What is important is to keep in our hearts the little light of motivation toward happiness, toward consciousness. Sometimes it gets weaker, sometimes it suddenly flares with some unexpected wind from the spirit.
It is also very important to have a daily moment of meditation or prayer, or even simply a personal time of reflection, which allows us to re center despites the whirl of daily concerns. At last, this life, we have to live it aniway. So in place of complaining about obstacles we encounter, it is much more crafty to make of each moment of our life an occasion of practice. Pain is the most powerful recall of consciousness, so we should use it to our own ends!
Small recalls, worthy whatever our spiritual orientation.
We shall die.
And this is really worrying
This simple fact resizes to a ridiculous zero many things to which we attach an enormous importance, but which in fact are of no help against this. We should always live as if we were about to die in a very short time, love as if we were to be separated, pardon as if we were to say good bye forever, admire light and life as a condemned who enjoy his very last instants.
In fact the only thing which really matters is to be happy.
And that the others would be happy too, as the happiness of only one being tarnishes the happiness of all the others.
The only really meaningfull thing in fact is to offer happiness to others.
The problem is that our emotional or psychological conditionnings, even benign, make us think, say or commit things which create evil, for us or for others. From there arises the fundamental need to have a practice or transformation of the mind in order to free us of all these conditionnings and psychological troubles. We can even state that this work must be the basis of any religious or spiritual practice. Otherwise our adhesion to a religion is only pure belief without any interest.
To respect others: the morals.
All the traditionnal religions propose morals rules, for instance not to have sexual intercourses out of marriage. Such rules were in the beginning intended as means to avoid creating suffering. But this means has its limits. Often these rules were proposed without justification, and worse, without any mean to really integrate them in our personnalities. It results of this suffering, or misunderstanding (rules are brandished as absolute taboos, or received as arbitrarian constrains). In reality a moral rule is valid only if it saves more suffering that it creates. If, for instance, humans had evolved from the Bonobos in place of the Chimpanzee, probgably the relations out of mariage would not arise problems, and there would be no need to forbid them. At last, we know since Gödel and his theorem of incompletude, that no logical system can span all the possible cases: a morals system always has cases where it is better to make do without it. We must not create suffering only to comply to a law! For this reason, the moral can be based only on happiness and respect of others, with a pragmatic, supple and concertative approach. And this also requires to develop a supple mind, free of any dogmaticism or dualism. I discuss all this with more details in the first part and sixth part of my book «General epistemology».
So we can define the good and the bad in relation with the happiness or suffering of conscious beings (and even of the whole nature), without any notion of arbitrarian or absolute «good» or «bad». Without taboos. And above all without this «liberal» pseudo-freedom which destroys everything.
Does God exist?
Right, surely we shall never catch Him in a test tube.
And even if we did, there will be still some to refuse His law.
For those who want to know in place of to believe (or of to be «sceptical»), I however propose the little following experiment. Anyway a perfectly scientific experiment, if we accept the extention of this word to spirituality, as I propose in the second part of my book «General Epistemology»
We must decide to look for the good wherever it is. Even if at first questionnement we do not know what is good or evil. The condition is to really sincerely undertake this project, and not just «make as if» for the experiment. (If we are psychotic or subject to hallucinations, this must be cured before. If our intellect is rigid or dualistic, it must be softened before).
After more or less time, generally some years, we shall notice that will appear various feelings or understanding about the meaning of life, happiness, altruism, the role of beauty, etc. It generally does not appear as spectacular miracles, rather of a feeling that there is «something» important, a vision of the future for the human consciousness, a suggested project for the human consciousness. It is generally impossible to explain it with words (from where some simple tests to see who understood or not) but it is strong enough to lead us to important choices in life.
God could be as abstract as this, a whisp of suggestion, as a fragrance of spring which gives us the mood to have a stroll in the countryside. An apparently very tenuous cause, but with however gigantic consequences.
Everybody will not rush on spirituality just after reading this page. However certain facts which are stated here imply importants consequences on society, that the leaders and legislators will mandatorily have to take in account, otherwise they will create havoc. More, in an information society like ours, it is more and more suspicious to pretend «not to know».
At first this secularity about which in France it is made such a fuss, it cannot pretend to lower the religious or spiritual practices to only «beliefs» that we should be free to have only in our «private life», but that we should «not show» in public. Right on the countrary, the spiritual practices are comitments in every aspects of life, relations, behaviour, food, economy, work, health, love, etc. And necessalily this is to be seen, this forcibly gets out of our «private life» to become visible in society, in the street, at school, at work, among friends... a really secular society is a society where this fundamental freedom is respected. A society where spirituality exists only «in our privacy» but where we must clothe and behave «normally» in public is not a secular society, it is an atheist and materialist society, a fascist and normative society, a dark and frightening society where happiness and consciousness do not have a place. And we know that it can go still worse that the ancient times inquisition, see China and USSR.
And how a society can pretend to be «neutral» in spiritual matters, when it requires us to behave only according to an immoral economy system based on egocentricity and competition, unanimously rejected by all the spiritual paths, or when knowledge is considered as «serious» only when it complies to a scientistist (note 2) system, onpenly materialistic and opposed to consciousness and happiness, caution to all kinds of vandalism and pollutions?
I am really worried with the very reactionar and integrist way in which some are engaged with the hunt to religions and human mind, especially in France.
About nasty or false spiritual groups known as sects, a legal approach cannot catch groups which are respectuous of the laws, but which infiltrate the society with perfidious doctrines, or which drive their disciples toward dead ends. A spiritual approach can do this, and it can provide an exact and accurate list of groups to encourage, to respect, to ignore, to avoid, to criticize, to forbid. In such conditions, there is no apologize today for the incredible tolerance certain dangerous groups enjoy, neither to harass innofensive or interesting groups.
The same reasoning also holds about intolerant or fanatic groups. What I think is that a terrorist who aims at any citizen of a country because of the policy of that country, that fanaticist is a psychiatric case, nothing more. As to go to Paradise with innocent blood on their hands, really these blokes are dreaming. And, I tell you, if you are in an airliner and you see a nutter with a cutter, defend yourself. We are not sitting in front of the TV, think! The legends of Jakata say that the Buddha himself experienced this situation (in a boat, not in an aircraft. But the story is astonishingly up to date). And, even as a master of non-violence as he was, he killed the guy. With compassion perhaps, with regret probably, but with a good sword certainly.
This stated, there is an abyss between self defence against precise groups, and to lauch many wars against whole countries. This only worsens things. It is certain that the shortest path to reduce terrorism is first to eliminate the gigantic economic and political injustices which torture the world today. Only after the authority will appear legitimate.
Spirituality is a source of wealth that the society should foster, in place of snubbing it.
For instance there are incredible art works in religious music or in the New Age, which are absent of the catalogs of the music industry, industry which elsewhere soaks us, want or not want, with this horrible rap, or with this «contemporary art» inhuman and empty of meaning. So the society has much to earn to encourage these ideals, in place of favorizing noxious and cynical fashions with no future. This was understood at the time of the Renaissance, where rich bourgeois, despite being materialist and egotic, were sponsorizing religious peoples, thinkers and artists, thus sowing the seeds of the today world.
I can admit that, after various circumstances independant of their will, sincere persons could still ignore certain of these things. It is anyway the purpose of this page to inform them. But about all the peoples whose job is preciselly to inform, to know, to make decisions, politicians, business men, scientists, lawyers, thinkers, magistrates, civil servants, journalists, and especially to all the persons who pose themselves as superiors, as critics, or who present their pesonnal opinions as «the science» or as the social norm, so we must consider that these persons know but that they oppose to these conclusions about our life conducts.
Note 1: Contrarily to what we often hear, Descartes was not atheist, nor rationalist, neither materialist. Right on the countrary he tried to base his spirituality on a solid ground, free of all the religious dogmas (scolastics). This is the Cartesian doubt: to accept nothing a priori, without demonstration. But the next step is to be really confident with what is proven. So Descartes was the founder of modern science and mathematics, but he also could have been the founder of modern spirituality... if he had been really understood, in place of selecting in his work only what was useful for materialism.
Note 2: We must not confuse the science, which is a method to objectivelly discover reality, and scientistism, which is an ideology which makes a priori statements on reality. As I explain in my book «General Epistemology», the today western science relies only on material evidences, and this does not allow it to take position in other domains: spiritual, ethical, artistical, etc. The scientistists however conclude that these domains do not exist (for instance that consciousness does not exist, as it cannot be observed materially). In the General Epistemology that I propose, the evidences are adapted to the studied domain, as in mathematics (logical evidence), or in the spiritual domain (spiritual evidence). So the peoples who really want can study objectivelly every domains.
Note 3: Rationnal, rationnally.
English meaning: which proceeds with method and logical resonning, contrarily to an attitude of belief in what we find pleasant.
newspeak meaning: atheist and materialist, excluding a priori consciousness and happiness.